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A Royal Air Force Atlas (A-400M) transport aircraft operating from the Falkland Islands has been conducting a series of long-range resupply flights for the British Antarctic Survey. 

Image shows RAF carrier aircraft flying through clouds while being refuelled.

The Atlas, currently based at the Mount Pleasant Complex as part of 1312 Flight is carrying out this annual Defence mission in support of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS).  This is the first time a RAF Atlas aircraft, from the RAF Brize Norton based Air Mobility Force, has been used for this task, previous re-supply missions were carried out by RAF C-130 Hercules aircraft. 

Image shows RAF aviators dropping cargo from the holding bay of carrier aircraft.

This year’s missions are being flown from the Falkland Islands to the Sky Blu Drop Zone near the BAS Sky Blu forward operating station.  This base is located at latitude 75 degrees south in Southern Palmer Land, Antarctica and is 1320 nautical miles from Mount Pleasant.

Image shows cargo inside the holding bay of a carrier aircraft.

The mission this year is to deliver 300 fuel drums. Three successful air drops have been completed with further missions planned, these will be completed over the forthcoming days depending on the weather.  The Atlas sorties are being supported by the Voyager KC3 tanker, also part of 1312 Flight, flown by aircrew from 10 and 101 Squadrons.

Image shows RAF pilot in the cockpit, while refuelling the carrier aircraft he is following.

We are pleased to have begun delivering the supplies requested by BAS during Operation AUSTRAL ENDURANCE.

The tenacity and flexibility of our team from 1312 Flight and 47 (Air Despatch) Squadron Royal Logistic Corps, mean that we are able to carry out this extremely challenging mission in one of the most hostile environments in the world.

Wing Commander Pope
Officer Commanding 905 Expeditionary Air Wing

Image shows RAF aviators sitting on cargo inside holding bay of carrier aircraft.

The RAF delivery of supplies to BAS simplifies the logistical chain for the UK scientific mission in the region for the rest of the season. The mission also enables the RAF to hone the crews' skills in long-range stores insertion over a sustained period, a task for which the RAF’s Air Mobility Force can be called upon to undertake anytime, anywhere, in support of UK humanitarian or military operations.

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